Park Vista is used to winning on the baseball diamond.
The Cobras are the reigning District 10-9A champions and have won district titles in four of the last five seasons. Now, they’re poised to do it again this season, which starts for teams around Palm Beach County today.
“I’m excited. The guys are working hard,” coach Larry Greenstein said. “We’ve got a lot of returning players that got a lot of playing time, so if we continue to improve like we did near the end of last year, I think we’ll be very competitive.”
How the Cobras fare this season rests largely on a pair of arms — Emanuel Fernandez’s left and James Marinan’s right. The two starters, both of whom signed to play for the Miami Hurricanes next year, are coming off dominant junior seasons and are looking to repeat that this season.
Marinan, whose 6-foot-4 frame towers over the mound, throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. He said his fastball tops out at about 93 miles per hour, and he used it to go 5-2 with a 1.57 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings last year.
“This year, (in the) offseason, I got bigger, stronger, faster,” he said. “Everything’s coming together right now.”
When he’s not pitching, Marinan, who was the Post’s second-team All-Area utility player last year, is the Cobras’ first baseman. He hit .311 with a pair of home runs last season.
Fernandez does not hit as much as Marinan, but he is just as good on the mound. He went 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings as a junior.
Fernandez had to rest his arm during the offseason because of elbow issues, but he said he is ready to pitch now.
“It’s frustrating,” Fernandez said. “But at the same time, it’s also a good thing because Florida is one of those states that you can play year-round, and sometimes it isn’t good for the arm.”
The Fernandez-Marinan duo can keep the Cobras in any game, and they know it.
“With him behind me, we’re going to be pretty good out there,” Marinan said. “There’s going to be a lot of zeroes on the board in the first seven innings.”
Behind the two star pitchers, Park Vista has a solid roster. Hunter Brennan returns after excelling in a relief role last year, and the lineup is full of solid, experienced contributors such as seniors Chase Ashby and Joe Kelly, along with juniors Drew Kendall, Patrick Skibiski and Andrew Lee. Lee is committed to LSU.
“The maturity level of the team (is a strength),” Greenstein said. “We went through our ups and downs last year — as does every team —and I think this year, being a year older, maybe they’ll be able to handle it a little better and a little sooner than later.”
Teams to watch
American Heritage: The Stallions lost ace Justin Barney to graduation, but they still have a solid pitching staff led by senior Eli Zuckerman, sophomore Carmine Lane and freshman Nelson Berkwich.
Benjamin: The Bucs have the potential to be one of the most exciting small schools in the county despite losing several key players to graduation.
Dwyer: The Panthers return several top players such as Kyle Khachadourian, Danny Lynch, Shane Roberts and Ryan Wimbush.
Jupiter: The Warriors have as talented a team as anyone in the county, featuring three seniors headed to major Division I baseball programs. If their pitching holds up, they could be a state title contender.
Palm Beach Central: Under new coach Tony Gullo, the Broncos are poised to make noise in District 9-9A. Featuring talented pitcher Cameron Lauer and top middle infielder Brendan Power, Central will be a team to watch.
Palm Beach Gardens: Always a team to keep an eye on, the Gators lost a pair of first-team All-Area selections, infielder Sendle Jean and do-it-all star Sam Prince. But Gardens still has depth and a strong No. 1 starter in Grant Patterson.
Park Vista: The Cobras are loaded once again and are poised to win their fifth district title in six years. Emanuel Fernandez and James Marinan may be the most formidable 1-2 rotation punch in the county.
Seminole Ridge: The Hawks will be an interesting team to keep an eye on. Coming off the program’s first district title, coach Trent Pendergast lost several of his key seniors, including ace Kyle Farjad.
Trinity Christian: The Warriors are locked and loaded for their Class 2A title defense. Several key players graduated or transferred, but Trinity Christian returns key players such as B.J. Murray and Angel Tiburcio while bringing in talented newcomers Kaeber Rog and Irv Carter.
Wellington: The Wolverines’ pitching staff is as talented as anyone’s, featuring Florida State commit Sawyer Losey, returning southpaw Angelo Bruneles and senior John Campagnuolo.
Players to watch
Reese Albert, Jupiter, OF, senior: The Florida State signee is one of the most athletic players in the county. As a junior, he hit .311 with nine extra-base hits while playing well in the outfield.
Kris Armstrong, Benjamin, IF/P, junior: The Florida commit was one of the top two-way players in Palm Beach County last season, hitting .440 with two home runs while going 5-1 with three saves and a 0.36 ERA.
Angelo Bruneles, Wellington, OF/P, senior: Bruneles had a strong junior season at the plate and on the pitcher’s mound. He hit .380 with 10 RBIs to go with a 1.58 ERA.
Jordan Bustabad, Oxbridge Academy, OF, senior: Bustabad does not hit for much power — he had only four extra-base hits last year — but he gets on base (.544 on-base percentage) and makes teams pay. He had 15 stolen bases last year and was not caught once.
Mason Doolittle, Jupiter, C, senior: After a slow start, the LSU signee turned it on offensively. The second-team All-Area pick hit .293 with three home runs, including one in the district championship game.
Shane Drohan, Cardinal Newman, P, senior: The 6-foot-3 Florida State commit had a rough junior season but has the tools to make a big impact as a senior.
Emanuel Fernandez, Park Vista, P, senior: Fernandez, a Miami signee, was a first-team All-Area pick last season after notching a 1.26 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.
Tarik Latchmansingh, Royal Palm Beach, IF, senior: One of Palm Beach County’s best power hitters, Latchmansingh transferred from Oxbridge Academy to Royal Palm after hitting .366 with four home runs last year.
Michael Malinchak, American Heritage, OF, senior: Malinchak, a Pepperdine commit, is a potent top-of-the-order hitter. Last year, he led the Stallions with a .476 on-base percentage while stealing 11 bases.
James Marinan, Park Vista, IF/P, senior: Marinan, a Miami signee like Fernandez, was a strong two-way player, hitting a pair of home runs last year while striking out more than a batter per inning.
Brandon McCabe, Forest Hill, P, senior: McCabe has bounced around a bit in his high school career. After starting at Trinity Christian, he did not play for a local team last year before making Forest Hill’s roster this year. The LSU commit was dominant for Trinity Christian as a freshman and sophomore and is Baseball America’s No. 33 high school prospect in the nation.
Brendan Power, Palm Beach Central, IF, junior: Power has a lot of his namesake, especially for a middle infielder. As a sophomore, the Notre Dame commit had 10 extra-base hits.
Shane Roberts, Dwyer, P, senior: The hard-throwing Florida State commit is coming off a 5-1 season where he had a 1.74 ERA while striking out 71 batters in 55 innings.
Anthony Servideo, Jupiter, IF, senior: The third part of the Warriors’ Division I-bound three-headed monster, the Ole Miss commit was a first-team All-Area selection last year and hit .333 with two home runs and nine stolen bases.
Angel Tiburcio, Trinity Christian, IF/P, junior: Tiburcio ended his sophomore season by pitching a rule-shortened complete-game in the Class 2A state championship. He is a Florida International commit.